The Woman in the White Kimono is a beautiful work of historical fiction by Ana Johns.
The story begins in 1957 as seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura is preparing to make one of the biggest decisions of her life—who she will marry. Naoko's family has high expectations for her to marry the son of one of her father's business associates. The marriage will secure the entire family and ensure a prosperous future, but Naoko is in love with an American military man whom she calls Hajimi.
Naoko's family is outraged at the idea of her marrying an American and dishonouring her family and Japanese traditions. When Naoko learns she is pregnant with Hajimis child, she is thrown into a series of hard choices and events.
The story also follows Tori Kovac, in present day America. Tori's father is dying of cancer and in his final days he drops a bomb that will change her outlook on him and life she's known until that point. With a letter that has left her with new information on her father's past life, Tori starts digging through decades of secrets. The journey eventually takes her to the other side of the world—Japan.
The Woman in the White Kimono is a story of love, friendship, commitment and relationships between fathers, daughters, mothers and lovers. Naoko and Hajimi have both a wonderful and tragic story, that left me rooting for them throughout the duration of the book. It also sheds light on the darkness of that time period. Many mixed blood children were born, but due to high tensions between America and Japan, they were shunned. This often led mothers to abort or abandon their children.
The two plots of Naoko and Tori are interesting as you see how they slowly begin to unravel and eventually bleed into one another. I found Naoko's more interesting, it wasn't until the later portion of the story that Toris plot became more exciting.
The ending (no spoilers!) is extremely emotional, at least I found it to be. I was in tears more than once.
Overall, I was surprised by this novel in the best way possible. It very well might be one of the best books I've read this year.
My rating: ★★★★★